Third Person Singular

Now for some heavy-duty improvisation from a trio of big names. Trio Sowari are Bertrand Denzler, Burkhard Beins and Phil Durrant, each man an accomplished player and most of them appear regularly in these pages; French giant Denzler most recently as one-third of Neuköllner Modelle (on which he bent his sax slightly more in the direction of the free jazz beacon), and Beins leading three other stern minimo-types on that impressive Fractured Mechanics record (for this same label). One thing of interest is that Trio Sowari have only made two records before this, hence the name Third Issue (MIKROTON CD 67), yet have been calling themselves a threesome since 2005. It’s possible that they rarely get to meet up, and once this benighted country has severed its ties with Europe we’ll probably hear even less music from them, unless someone deigns to set up a musical smuggling ring across the English Channel.

Music created here by the expected means of acoustic instruments meeting electronic devices of some sort, specifically a droning tenor sax that could drown a 300-pound pig at the circus, percussive objects (sometimes) rending the air and breaking the mirrors, and Phil D’s modular and software synths either sighing or spitting sewage. (I am one of those who constantly regret that he gave up the violin; he was a very distinctive player on that instrument, had his own voice, whereas now he just sounds like any other electronica key-presser.) Combined effects show strong team playing; ‘Gravitation’ is agitated boxing match action, ‘Suspension’ is a lengthy drone-bore in slow motion, ‘Exploration’ is harsh and bitty and far too short to amount to much, while ‘Levitation’ is the epic of the set, stirring heroic emotions in weak men simply through constant rubbing and weaving of abstract textures and puffy wisps. Assured, interactive gestures from everyone in the room.

Dig the contrasting tones and lush sounds for sure, but as always with this type of post-EAI noodling it’s hard to say how much it creates an actual concrete “event”, or pinpoint when it does so; the aim seems to be to keep playing without stopping, and rub up against the warm bodies in the room, then see what impressions have been made on the rubber mattress. However, as press blurb forewarns us, the record represents “undaunted and spirited ways of facing a complex and bewildering present”. While the first half of that claim is debatable, I’m not about to take issue with the second half. From May 2018.

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